Caring for the earth as a practice
Sotoshu, the international denomination of Soto Zen, has long had a focus on caring for the earth. It's asking all temples and practitioners to work together to reduce pollution by 1%. Its Five Principles of Green Life are:
Protect the green of the earth; the earth is the home of life.
Planting and protecting trees; creating and caring for green spaces.
One thing we're doing: caring for temple grounds including native restoration, trees and the moss garden
One thing you can do: replace or supplement lawn space with trees, wildflowers, or wildlife habitat
Do not waste water; it is the source of life.
Conserving water; protecting water quality.
One thing we're doing: paying attention to water use during retreats
One thing you can do: avoid putting household chemicals and fertilizer into drains to keep them out of the water supply
Do not waste fuel or electricity; they are the energy of life.
Conserving electricity, reducing crude oil consumption.
One thing we're doing: offering virtual practice reduces the need for travel
One thing you can do: turn off lights and appliances when not in use
Keep the air clean; it is the plaza of life.
Reducing carbon footprint; lowering greenhouse gas emissions.
One thing we're doing: serving vegetarian meals at sesshin/retreats helps reduce greenhouse gases from meat production
One thing you can do: walk, bicycle or take public transit when possible rather than driving a single-occupant vehicle
Co-exist with nature; it is the embodiment of Buddha.
Respecting, cherishing, learning from and living in harmony with nature.
One thing we're doing: composting kitchen scraps reduces trash and provides nourishment for planting beds
One thing you can do: take a mindful walk in nature, paying attention to your surroundings and appreciating interconnection and impermanence.
Okumura Roshi has noted that taking care of our own temple and grounds is beneficial action in itself because a well-tended temple creates good feelings for visitors and the community. Our native restoration project has already replaced about half of our lawn with native woodland and prairie plants. The change brings a number of benefits, including the creation of a substantial amount of habitat for wildlife, a reduction in the need to mow the area from once a week to just once a year (and all of the gasoline usage that goes along with that), and providing a season long source of flowers for our altars.